MacDonnell, Angela Christina (‘Angela Antrim’) (née Sykes) (1911–84), countess of Antrim , sculptor, cartoonist, and illustrator, was born 6 September 1911 at Eddlethorpe, near Malton, Yorkshire, youngest daughter and fifth child among three sons and three daughters of Sir Mark Sykes, 6th baronet of Sledmere, Yorkshire, and Lady Edith Violet Sykes (née Gorst). She was educated privately before training under the sculptor Marnix d'Haveloose in Brussels (1927–32), then attended the British School in Rome for six months. Returning to London, she established her own studio near Regent's Park and began to sculpt in stone. In 1928 she first exhibited two sculptures at the Royal Academy, ‘Mother and child’ and ‘Woman and child’.
She married (11 May 1934) Randal John Somerled MacDonnell (1911–77), earl of Antrim (13th earl under a patent issued in 1620; 8th earl under a new patent of 1785); they had three sons (one of whom lived only one day) and one daughter. Their residence was Glenarm castle, Co. Antrim. Her witty caricature drawings, such as ‘The siege of Dunluce’ (c.1934–5), portrayed an assortment of her relatives, including her husband's great-great-uncle Alexander, known as ‘the fox’. A limestone sculpture of Samson pulling down the pillars (c.1934–5) embodied aspects of medieval sculpture. At her first one-person show, at the Beaux Arts gallery, London (1937), she exhibited eighteen pieces of sculpture, including a bronze mask of Cyril Connolly, and also presented five cartoons, including ‘The fall of the house of lords’, in collaboration with her brother Christopher Sykes. During the 1930s she carved an anti-fascist sculpture depicting a figure in a German helmet; rejected by the Royal Academy, but shown at Whitechapel Art Gallery, the piece was later smashed. During the second world war she was active in the Women's Voluntary Service, and organised canteens and hostels for the armed forces under the auspices of the Catholic Women's League in Ulster (1939–44). Within the league she led a mobile hospital unit for people rescued from concentration camps, and she served with Catholic Relief Services on a rehabilitation mission in Holland and Germany (1945–6).
She showed only two works at the RHA: ‘Bronze head: Alexander’ (1948) and ‘The descent from the cross’ (1949). In a solo exhibition in 1950 at the gallery of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA), Belfast, she presented bronze, terracotta, and stone sculpture, including a disturbing ‘Belsen mother and child’, inspired by her experiences in war-related relief. The exhibition also included religious art, watercolours, and oil paintings. Made an academician of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts (1950), she sat on the art advisory committee of the Ulster Academy, and exhibited at the first show of the Contemporary Ulster Group (1951). She was a director of Ulster Television on its foundation (1958). Her works were shown in the Institute of the Sculptors of Ireland (1953–7), of which she was president in 1956. She exhibited sculptures at the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts (1956), and designed a stained-glass window depicting a nativity scene for the church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenarm (1961).
An accident in 1962 damaged her hand. No longer able to carve, instead she modelled her figures for casting in bronze. In 1965 she completed a bronze sculpture of St Patrick in his youth (posed by her younger son, Hector) for St Mary's church, Feystown, Co. Antrim. Her ‘Hand of healing’ sculpture was created for the Broadway tower at the Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast (1969). She was chairman of the organising committee of ‘Art in worship today’, an exhibition of postwar church building and works of art, shown in Belfast in 1968. She received the papal decoration Pro ecclesia (1947), and was awarded an honorary LLD from QUB (1971).
She illustrated several books, including a children's tale, The little round man (1977). Under her professional name ‘Angela Antrim’ (she signed artwork as ‘A. A.’) she wrote and illustrated two books: The Antrim McDonnells (1977), a humorous history of her husband's ancestors, the MacDonnell ‘tribe’, including depictions of Dunluce castle and maps; and The Yorkshire wold rangers (1981), giving historical background coupled with her own memories of the nomadic population of the wolds. Her painting of the apocalypse is on the chancel ceiling of Holy Trinity church, Edenbridge, Kent. She served on the Northern Ireland Arts Council, and was a governor of the Belfast College of Art for many years. A trustee of the Ulster Museum, Belfast, she chaired the museum's arts committee, and was a founder and first president of the Association of Ulster Drama Festivals. She died 27 August 1984 at Glenarm castle, and was buried in the MacDonnell family graveyard overlooking Glenarm.